Storytelling With The Legendary Party Purveyor Mark Da Spot

“I’ve had so many people come up and shake my hand like, “Thank you, I haven’t danced in so long” – Mark Da Spot

These days, the nightlife scene can feel like it’s dominated by the kids. There is always some super young DJ or social media influencer seemingly doing the most. And while their sounds may be fresh and their following feverish, there is something about an industry OG like Mark Da Spot that hits different.  

Decades into his career, MDS is a true pioneer party purveyor, continuing to dominate the dance floor whenever he spins. Born in Montego, Jamaica and raised in Bronx, New York by a family comprised of many professional DJs, Mark came up influenced by the East Coast’s finest like DJ Kid Capri, Jam Master Jay and Biz Markie. After getting his start in NYC’s hottest clubs, a chance meeting with Justin Timberlake while working as driver proved to be the unexpected catalyst to his big break and ultimate move to LA.

Once on the West Coast, Mark quickly made his mark on the scene, getting behind the decks at the most popular Hollywood clubs, performing alongside A-Listers like Jennifer Lopez, 50 Cent, J.Cole, Nicki Minaj, Meek Mill and more.

Known for his scratching skills and ability to create mash-up blends with all types of music including hip hop, reggae, rock, R&B and pop, Mark garnered a reputation as a killer “crowd mover” and in turn, became one of the most sought after DJ’s in town. 

After hearing and admiring his style of blending funk and oldies, Prince even hired MDS to DJ various parties, which lead to him touring with the “Purple Rain” singer for years to come. Mark also joined Kevin Hart on his wildly popular HartBeat Weekend tours as the supporting DJ.

In addition to his celeb clients, Mark—who served as BET’s 106&Park resident DJ for its final three years—annually performs at mega parties for high-profile events like NBA All-Star Weekend, SXSW, The Oscars and Super Bowl Weekend, just to name a few.

Playing both domestically and internationally, his most recent work has taken him to Las Vegas, Denver, New Orleans, Austin, NYC, Scottsdale, Chicago as well as Canada, India, Australia, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, London and Amsterdam. Mark has even had the rare opportunity and life-changing experience to DJ for the troops in Iraq, which he regards as the highest honor.

Locally, MDS spins regularly at LA hotspots like Ballet Hollywood, Poppy, Hyde Sunset, PH Day Club and more Hollywood. 

Being a businessman, Mark decided to broaden his portfolio with Top Floor Entertainment, a company he started comprised of other crowd favorite DJs. TFE took off quickly and put him on the map not only as a crowd favorite DJ but also a successful event coordinator/promoter. Most recently, he became the West Coast Brand Ambassador for Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson‘s Branson Cognac and Le Chemin du Roi Champagne.

Loop Magazine recently caught up with the legendary DJ where he spilled some major tea about his come up, the strict dress code Prince used to give him, his hot take on current music trends and more. Check out our exclusive interview with Mark Da Spot below. 

Tell us how you made the move from the East Coast to the West Coast. We hear it involves Justin Timberlake.

It’s a long story. I used to work for a limousine company back in the day in New York. It was called OJs, this is before Uber. I got a call one day saying, “Hey, I need you to pick up someone downtown.” I didn’t usually do downtown runs, but the owner of the company said, “Please do this for me, it’s one of my friends that I know.” So I picked up these two guys that we’re going to Brooklyn. It was these two big gigantic guys and when we got there they said, “We need you to hang here with us.”

So I wound up hanging there and long story short, they were security guards for NSYNC. They loved my truck so much because back then, I had five TVs in my truck—one on every headrest, also one that came down—and I had a PlayStation. We used to put on the PlayStation at night and then when I would drive by and all you see is the inside of the car lighting up with TVs. And they said, “We got to get the boys in this truck,” and I was like, “What’s the boys?”

They called me back a few days later and said, “Hey, you’re picking up NSYNC.” I didn’t know who the hell NSYNC was. So the guys came down, it was actually Joey Fatone first that I was driving for. Joey fell in love with the truck and would ask me to do different things, like go around this neighborhood and show off or just crank up that bass. One day, Justin came out and he was like, “I’ve been meaning to get this truck,” so he got in and fell in love. Long story short, I turned into his driver. From there, the guys stopped using different people to drive them around and I would go everywhere with them. I started touring with them as their driver and eventually I came out to California for them. That’s where I started my limousine business and continued DJing out here.

How did your DJ career take off once you got to LA? 

Shout out to DJ EQ. She’s the one that actually put me on to one of my first clubs here. She invited me out on a Sunday night, so I came down and hung out with her. The next week, her and I were the resident DJs over there. People were loving my style—me talking on the mic, being able to interact with the crowd, the crowd interacting with me. People loved it, club owners loved it, promoters loved it, bottle buyers loved it because I brought a lot of great energy.

Of course, in a nightclub, you want as much great energy as you can. You don’t want to come to a nightclub and sit down or get dressed really nice, just to look at each other. No, you want to come to a party, sweat your hair out, shirt soakin wet. I’ve had so many people come up to me and shake my hands like, “Thank you, I haven’t danced in so long.”

After that, it went to the moon. I worked with Kevin Hart. I worked with Prince. I worked with Tank. So many different names. I’ve been so many different places with these artists from Iraq to so many places around the world with them. It took off tremendously when I got to Hollywood.

Let’s talk about your connection with Prince.

I’ve got a million stories I could tell you about Prince, but I’m gonna tell you the funniest one. When I first started working with Prince, I was told by his team that Prince only works with his crew for three years. After that, he switches everyone out. That’s just the way he is. I was also told I had to wear suits while I was DJing. That’s just the way he wanted things. You have to be in a suit, you have to be dressed correctly around him. I learned a lot from Prince. That’s first things first.

The only times I would get away with not wearing a suit is when he would call me after 2 a.m. After 2 a.m., Prince would like to go out to different venues, but he didn’t want to party with  a million people. He wanted his own entire space, but he wanted it to be in a club.

The first year I was DJing for Prince. he didn’t say one word to me. Not hello, not thank you, nothing. He’d walk right by you like he wasn’t there. Then one day, out the blue, I was at his house DJing a party for him and he walked up to me—I didn’t know he knew my name—and he said “Hey Mark, you’re playing that song a little too fast. Need you to just slow it down just a little bit.” So I said, “ok” and slowed it down. Ever since then, I could not get him shut up (laughs)—our relationship got much closer and we would talk to each other more. 

One thing I would say about Prince is he loves his music. All of the years I was DJing for him, I didn’t think he was really listening to me. Oh, he listened to me. He told me “I love the way you mix, I love the way you blend. Just slow that one song down.” That’s how that’s how our talking relationship began and again, after years went by, he would always call me just to go and hang out in the club after 2 a.m.. Never during club hours, always after-hours and we did that for about a good three or four years and after that, we all know…Rest in Peace P.  I had amazing journey with him.

What is the secret to your staying power in this industry? 

I’m here because of relationships. I always like to try to keep good, long relationships. Relationships are really, really important, they can take you very far, but as a new person, don’t feel like that’s gonna hold you back from anything. Don’t let anything hold you back. Not everybody has relationships, but it is always great to build them when you can, especially within the industry.

When you’re traveling or going on tour, is there anything you absolutely need while on the road?

I mean, what I really need, I can’t travel everywhere with (laughs) but no, I’ve never really been picky. As long as I have my equipment and everything works, I’ve got no issues.

Have you ever made made a major goof on stage? If so, how did you recover?

I remember I was on stage in Iraq performing for the troops and my laptop completely froze on me in the middle of the show. As most DJs, good thing I had a backup. I had a flashdrive but if I didn’t have that, oh it would have been all bad. I tell people all the time, you know things are gonna happen, so it’s what you do after that counts.

What artists are inspiring you these days? Anyone new on your radar?

Right now my two favorite artists are Lil Wayne and 50 Cent. To be honest, there are so many new artists coming out every day, it’s hard to keep up with them. The new trend of music—if you ask a person like me, from the birthplace of hip -hop—I’m not 100 % with it. The reason why I say that is because I like people to be original and when you’re taking somebody else’s hit song to make another hit off the same song, with the same beat, that’s not being creative at all. I’m not going to take a Tupac song that I know that went triple platinum and then redo that same Tupac song to try and go triple platinum. To me, that doesn’t make sense. I like things to be creative. 

Let’s talk about your personal style. What do you like to wear when you performthat is when Prince isn’t making you wear a suit, of course.

I’m into different things. I like to test out other people’s stuff. I mean, I could buy a million Gucci sweaters and stuff like that but I’d rather give somebody else a try. I’d rather help somebody else blow up. Gucci already blown up, Prada already blown up, Chanel already blown up.

Where are you at 2 a.m. when you are not DJing? 

Now or 15 years ago? (laughs). Well, when I’m not DJing, I’m at home with my wife and my dog, honestly. I like to stay in the house. Ever since COVID hit, I’ve been in love with staying in.

What’s keeping you busy these days?

I’m working with 50 Cent now and Branson on our Cognac and Champagne. I’m actually about to open up my own chain of restaurants. I can’t release it yet, but that’s definitely happening soon. Besides that, a bunch of shows are coming up in different places. There is Bangkok, I have Vegas, which I do once a month and then all my other residences. 

What’s the biggest difference between East Coast vs West Coast when it comes to nightlife?

It’s a big difference. I can’t really compare them because it’s almost two different worlds. Out here, we close at 2 a.m., in New York it’s 5 a.m., sometimes 6 a.m.. In New York, I would say the crowd is usually more energetic, depending on the places you’re at. Growing up in New York, people party, they actually dance, they jump on things, they turn up.

Here in LA, people get dressed up in nice clothes, they don’t want to sweat, so they’re not gonna move too much. It’s a little bit different, but I love both places. Now I’m a part of Cali, I’ve been here 23 years…but I’ve still got my accent.

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